AUSTIN, Texas (PRESS RELEASE) — The following is a press release from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department:
Since 2012, the Game Warden Peace Officer’s Association has been working to relocate the memorial from the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens to the grounds of the Texas State Capitol. The life-size bronze figure of a Texas Game Warden stands to honor the wardens that lost their lives in the line of duty and serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of the Texas Game Wardens.
“The Association saw this as a necessary move since other memorials—specifically peace officer memorials—are housed on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol,” said Game Warden Peace Officer Association President and current Texas Game Warden Major, Quint Balkcom. “Housing the memorial on Capitol grounds would also serve a larger audience, many who have never interacted with a Texas Game Warden. This is an educational opportunity to learn more about our history and our critical conservation efforts.”
When the Game Warden Peace Officer’s Association took the reins of this project, they also facilitated the necessary funding and legislative efforts required for relocation. After multiple attempts, a 2017 resolution in support of the project passed through both chambers of the Texas legislature. Last week’s hearing of the State Preservation Board cleared logistical hurdles that had stalled relocation.
“This is an incredible step in the right direction,” said Colonel Chad Jones, Director of Law Enforcement for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “The fallen wardens this memorial honors arent just the wardens of the past. Some of them were my friends and colleagues. Placing the memorial at the Capitol ensures their sacrifices will be remembered daily by the leaders, residents, and visitors to this state.”
Despite overcoming monumental hurdles, the memorial still faces an uphill battle to its final home.
“Now that the project has received final approval from the State Preservation Board, we have moved into the planning phase of relocation which will be a lengthy process as well,” said Balkcom. “Ordering the granite for a new pedestal and physically moving the memorial takes months to plan and perform, but I am thrilled the project is one step closer to its new home and honoring our fallen family the way it was intended.”
Balkom added that an updated sculpture will be replacing the memorial in Athens in the future.
As the state’s only conservation law enforcement agency, Texas Game Wardens patrol its vast network of waterways, respond to natural disasters and oversee hunting and fishing regulations. Through the agency’s 125 year history, 19 Texas Game Wardens have lost their lives while serving the people of Texas.
(Press release from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department)